University of Missouri Legislative Update University of Missouri

Legislators kick off 2nd session of the 93rd General Assembly

On the opening day of session, Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) speaks at a Republican press conference (top), while Minority Leader Jeff Harris (D-Columbia) holds a press conference for House Democrats.

Medicaid and health care, eminent domain, energy policy and education are among key issues lawmakers from the House and Senate will address in the 2006 legislative session, which officially began Wednesday, Jan. 4. Leadership in both chambers held press conferences and addressed their goals and priorities for the upcoming session.

Photos: On the opening day of session, Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) speaks at a Republican press conference (top), while Minority Leader Jeff Harris (D-Columbia) holds a press conference for House Democrats.

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UM operating budget request

To meet its responsibilities of teaching, research, service and economic development for the state, the University of Missouri is requesting an operating appropriation of $466.5 million for Fiscal Year 2007. The additional funds will support unavoidable increases in employee health care as well as retirement and utility costs. In addition, the University faces mandatory increases in maintenance and repair of buildings and equipment, and operations and maintenance costs for new buildings. The operating budget also provides support for three additional initiatives to enable the University to better serve the state: $20 million for health care access; $4 million for need-based scholarships for Missouri students; and $2 million for endowed faculty chairs. The University will have a better idea of the budget scenario after the governor’s State of the State Address on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 7:00 p.m.

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UM capital improvement request

While the state is obligated to provide support for infrastructure needs of public colleges and universities, the General Assembly has not approved a capital budget for higher education in several years. The University of Missouri requests legislative support for four capital projects at each of its campuses in Fiscal Year 2007. [Read more…]

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Lawmakers focus on improving the Bright Flight scholarship program

When state lawmakers passed legislation to establish the Bright Flight scholarship program in 1987, the $2,000 awards were more than enough to cover tuition and fees at the University of Missouri. The program, which was designed to provide a significant financial incentive to keep Missouri’s brightest students from going out of state for college, will be a major higher education issue in the 2006 session. Sen. Jason Crowell (R-Cape Girardeau) has introduced SB662 that would increase the Bright Flight award from $2,000 per year to $4,000 per year. The legislation also includes an inflationary index so that the buying power of the award does not diminish in the future. [Read more…]

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Medicaid Reform Commission issues final report

The Medicaid Reform Commission submitted its final report to the General Assembly on Dec. 28. Sen. Charles Shields (R-St. Joseph), chair of the commission, recommended that the group continue to meet as a permanent joint committee in order to monitor implementation of its recommendations. [Read more…]

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Treasurer’s Office announces enhancements, new manager for MO$T program

Treasurer Sarah Steelman announced Jan. 5 enhancements and a new manager for the college-savings 529 program MO$T, or Missouri Savings for Tuition. Steelman said the new plan will better enable Missourians of all income levels to save and invest for college, and that lower fees, a greater range of investment options and participation by more Missouri-based companies highlight the changes. Beginning May 10, a new consortium of companies will take over management of the program from TIAA-CREF. The consortium will be led by UPromise Inc., which will serve as program manager, and investment managers Vanguard Group Inc. and American Century Cos. Inc. Missouri law allows individual taxpayers to deduct up to $8,000 per year and married couples filing jointly up to $16,000 per year for contributions into a MO$T 529 account. Current federal law also allows exempts earnings on these investments federal income taxes.

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Sen. Bond visits MU College of Engineering to announce grants

President Elson S. Floyd and MU College
President Elson S. Floyd and MU College
of Engineering Dean Jim Thompson listen
as Sen. Kit Bond announces grants for two

U.S. Senator Kit Bond came to MU on Tuesday, Jan. 5, to announce that funding had been secured for two engineering projects in the Department of Defense appropriations budget. Bond brought news that a Center for Geospatial Intelligence will receive $1.75 million, and a Micro/Nano Systems Technology Center will receive $2 million. “I hope that centers like these will lead to a new industrial park in mid-Missouri, spurring development of start-up companies with innovative technologies necessary to sustain the nation’s edge in military systems,” Bond said. [Read more…]

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Sen. Talent & U.S. Secretary of Agriculture visit MU to discuss avian flu

Sen. Jim Talent (left) and U.S. Secretary of
Sen. Jim Talent (left) and U.S. Secretary of
Agriculture Mike Johanns speak to members
of the media following the roundtable

U.S. Senator Jim Talent chaired a roundtable at MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine on Thursday, Jan. 7, that featured Mike Johanns, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and several other veterinary and agriculture officials to discuss the federal government’s efforts to prepare for the avian flu. Talent, who is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, talked about the role of agriculture in the control and eradication of avian flu as part of a series of stops in Missouri. [Read more…]

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Did You Know? UM & Economic Impact

With $2.1 billion in total revenues and more than 23,000 employees, the University of Missouri is the 21st-largest public company in the state. Read more about the University’s economic impact in this new 2006 report. As President Floyd writes in the report’s opening letter, “even those who already are familiar with the University’s contributions will come away impressed.”

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Profile: Rep. Bob Behnen

Profile: Rep. Bob Behen

Rep. Bob Behnen (R-Kirksville) received a bachelor of arts degree in business administration/marketing from Truman State University in 1991 and a masters of business administration degree from William Woods University in 1996. “The University of Missouri offers the opportunity for our children to better themselves through a top-notch instruction and learning environment, enabling students to achieve their dreams and become productive citizens of our state,” Behnen said. [Read more…]

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